Upper School 2020

In the hybrid model, the goal is to provide the best learning environment for students in the safest way possible, in accordance with the DA’s Roadmap for a Return to Campus and Guiding Principles. DA’s priorities for Upper School students while on campus are:

  • Ensuring health and safety protocols while students and teachers are on campus.
  • Establishing and building important student-teacher connections and creating supportive learning communities.
  • Providing opportunities for students to build relationships with their peers.
  • Developing student agency and independence so that they can work independently and successfully at home.

The Upper School’s hybrid model divides students into two rotating groups. Each week, each group will have two consecutive days of on-campus instruction, two consecutive days of remote instruction and Friday online “flex days.” On Flex Days, teachers will be available for synchronous one-on-one meetings with students, available for synchronous instruction during their class period, or students can work on asynchronous lessons from home. 

Reducing the daily on-campus student population to 50% allows DA to implement safety protocols and social distancing throughout the school day. 

This weekly schedule is designed to be used in both hybrid or Durham E-cademy scenarios. Also, all academic programming is designed to be accessible from home or on campus, allowing for easy transition between these two instructional models. This will also accommodate the needs of students and families who may choose to or need to access remote instruction for a portion of or the entire academic year. 

DA’s ability to offer hybrid educational experiences hinges on the willingness of the DA community to come together in support of our collective health and safety. Prior to orientation, families will be required to electronically sign the DA Community Health Compact and COVID-19 Addendum to the All-School Handbook, which outline DA’s health and safety protocols designed to protect the DA community. If families have not indicated their agreement by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 21, their children will not be permitted to attend on-campus activities or events.

Upper School Back to School 2020–2021

Important Dates

  • Aug. 4 Extended Day information sessions 
  • Aug. 5 Back to School Information Session with Michael-Ulku Steiner and Kristen Klein
  • Aug. 10 Back to School Update
  • Aug. 10 Registration opens for Extended Day and online enrichments
  • Aug. 17 Upper School Parent Orientation Night

  • Aug. 19 Back to School Information Session with Michael-Ulku Steiner and Kristen Klein 
  • Aug. 21 Deadline to sign DA Community Health Compact and DA COVID-19 Addendum to All-School Handbook, return any medical, immunization or and athletics forms
  • Aug. 24 First day of DA Hybrid

On-Campus Student Orientation (Week of Aug. 24)

Our Cavalier Kickoff week will focus on establishing relationships between students, their advisors and their advisory group. We will also train students on health and safety protocols and use of technology. Students new to the Upper School will be introduced to the Upper School campus, faculty and routines first, followed by returning students. While these times reflect our on campus programming, we will also have remote programming for those students not on campus throughout the week.

Monday, Aug. 24

Grade 9 and students new-to-DA: 1–3:15 p.m. drop in

Tuesday, Aug. 25

Grade 9: 8:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Grades 10 & 11: 8:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 27

Grades 9 & 12: 8:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 28

Grades 10 & 11: 8:15 a.m.–3:15 p.m.

Academic Year Schedule (Begins Aug. 31)

Students will start the academic year with their rotational schedule, establishing class routines. They will be divided into the two groups that they will remain in throughout the academic year. During a four-day academic week, students will be on campus for two days and learning remotely for two days. Friday will be a “flex day.” On “flex days” all students will learn remotely. 

Students will be choosing the names of their rotational groups at the start of the school year.

*Parents will receive specific information about A/B groupings, and a rotational/daily schedule as part of back to school information shared on Aug. 10.

Stay-at-Home Students

DA recognizes that there may be students and families who may choose to or need to access remote instruction for a portion of or for the entire academic year. While we do know that many students will be learning at home (some for longer periods by the choice of their families, some for shorter periods due to precautious quarantining, and everyone if we move to fully-virtual Durham E-cademy mode), DA cannot promise a matching experience for at-home learners when we are on campus. DA faculty learned a great deal about online instruction in spring 2020. Every teacher has attended workshops this summer to hone their abilities to teach remotely and to keep at-home learners connected and moving forward.

All of the Upper School’s academic programming is designed to be accessible from home. Integration will be key in DA’s hybrid model. All Upper School instruction will be founded upon a base of  remote learning, so that teaching will take place throughout the week in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. Teachers’ class designs integrate students who are working at school with students working from home. The Upper School’s hybrid mode is designed to bring together the full class no matter the students’ locations. This model also allows a seamless transition to fully remote learning without resetting the syllabus.

Arrival Times and Locations

7:45–8:10 a.m.

  • Seniors: park and enter through Kirby Gym
  • Juniors: stairs next to the Hock Center
  • Sophomores: Kenan Auditorium
  • Ninth-graders and all non-driving students: main quad entrance

Dismissal Times and Locations

Dismissal will take place at 3:15 p.m. Please have patience when picking up students. While it is very crowded at 3:15, the parking lot is quiet at 3:30.

*Health screenings will be conducted for all students upon arrival. Students will not be allowed into facilities until the health screening is completed. Late arrivals will need to check in for health screenings at the main office in the Learning Commons.

Masks and Physical Distancing

The Upper School is carefully planning ways to keep students safe on campus following the most current guidance from medical experts. Individuals will wear masks at school — at all times indoors (except when eating or drinking in a socially-distanced way), and outdoors in situations where social distancing is not possible.

Classrooms will be arranged to provide six feet of distance between students, making most classrooms appropriate for 12–15 students. We will direct foot traffic to ensure appropriate distance. Teachers will oversee students during times between classes and break times to reinforce safety behaviors.

After School

The Fine Arts Department is committed to giving students opportunities outside of classes to collaborate and create theatre and is thrilled to announce the creation of a new Upper School Theatre Company, led by and comprised of students. Mr. Bohanek and Mr. Kavanagh will supervise the production of a variety of smaller theatrical projects throughout the year that allow for social distancing and other safety measures. Students interested in finding out more about the company and how to get involved right away should contact Caroline Aldridge '21, Emily Norry '21, Carina Rockart '21 or Chaz Strickland '22. Details will be sent about informational meetings scheduled in August.


Fall teams will have voluntary pre-season training sessions from Aug. 3–21 (coaches will email team schedules). To sign up for a fall sport, fill out this Google form no later than July 26 to be added to the team’s email list. Durham Academy will not participate in any sports competitions prior to Sept. 1. All tryouts for fall sports will be held no earlier than the first day of school, Aug. 24.  

All student-athletes must have a valid up-to-date physical on file and complete the COVID-19 waiver through Veracross (click on “Sign Policies” under “My Household”) prior to participating. 

More information about fall athletics


  • All new Upper School students and all ninth-grade students will receive a school-issued MacBook.
  • Students will receive in-person and online instruction about appropriate laptop use and care, and efficiency in using remote learning platforms.
  • Every student laptop will be configured with appropriate security controls.


  • Veracross (student/family database, gradebook, and LMS)
  • Microsoft Teams (synchronous meetings/instruction)
  • Microsoft Outlook (email)